Qatar operates the Kafala system. I am sponsored by my employer to work in Qatar and I need their permission to leave the country. I usually apply for an exit permit a week or so before I intend to depart. Once it goes through the internal systems, it heads off digitally to ‘government’ where it gets final approval.
Although I get confirmation from my employer that I can leave, it is always a somewhat worrying time as I don’t want to arrive at the airport being uncertain that I can actually leave.
So today, I registered with Hukoomi, Qatar’s Online Government Portal. This will give me access to various online services, but why I needed it was to get email notification when my exit permit had been approved.
I tried to complete the online registration, however the system would not accept my date of birth. I contacted the online chat. They suggested adding a random date and then changing once registration was completed… my date of birth is now 1 December 2013, so the system currently thinks I am a newborn baby.
On submitting the form, I was informed I had to take my ID to one of the post-offices. I headed for the main post-office after work. I was directed to a counter. My ID was checked on a computer and I was sent to another counter.
After ten minutes, their computer told me that I had already registered and was sent back to the first counter where I was given a document to sign and date and get a photocopy of my ID (cost 1QR) at the second counter. I returned to the first counter, and after a brief wait I was called over and told that registration was completed.
I have no trips planned at the moment, but hopefully the system will give me reassurance that I will be able to leave Qatar ‘without let or hindrance’ as I recall it used to say on the old blue British passports. I now need to change my date of birth as they may not let a baby who looks like a grown man easy passage through passport control.